~ The Prosecutor office (OM), will send out non-notifiers with a warning, remainder to be investigated further ~
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — In August 2017, the Public Prosecution Service, KPSM, RST and FIU Sint Maarten launched a criminal investigation into 13 service providers that do not, or insufficiently, cooperate with their registration with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). A number of these service providers have been heard as suspects.
These are jewelers, brokers and accountants that have repeatedly been requested by FIU to register. In spite of several requests, they have not complied with the related obligations.
Non-financial reporting institutions on Sint Maarten are legally obliged to report unusual transactions to the FIU Sint Maarten. These so-called ‘gatekeepers’ are indispensable in the approach to money laundering and terrorist financing. That is why it is very important that they fulfill their obligations within the framework of the National Ordinance (Landsverordening) on the Reporting of Unusual Transactions (LV MOT) and the National Ordinance Identification for Services (LV ID).
The criminal investigation that has been initiated will take place within the framework of the “non-reporting project”. The goal of this project is that more, timely and better reports of unusual transactions are made at the FIU. In that context, registration of non-financial service providers such as jewelers, brokers and accountants is an extremely important step.
Part of the registration is the submission of documents showing that the reporting service provider has arranged his company in such a way that the obligations under the National Ordinance on the Reporting of Unusual Transactions (LV MOT) and the National Ordinance on Identification for Services (LV ID) can be met.
More than a year ago, FIU identified a group of 90 reporting service providers on Sint Maarten that had not yet registered. To accompany these reporting agents in the registration process, the FIU organized information meetings and made numerous writings. A trade association has also tried to motivate its members to cooperate with the registration obligation. Unfortunately, a group of 13 service providers proved to be notoriously or incompletely cooperating.
After consultation between the Public Prosecutor Office and the FIU, in view of the obvious importance of correct registration, this group has decided to criminalize it research. Investigation officers from the KPSM, RST and FIU have also jointly taken up this task.
The effect of this action was immediately noticeable for the FIU. During the interrogation, some suspects indicated by investigating officers that they still wanted to comply with their information obligation. In addition, several reporting agents, who were not involved in this criminal investigation, spontaneously took action and answered outstanding requests from the FIU.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office Sint Maarten has decided that, with regard to the suspects who have cooperated in the criminal investigation, this is limited to a warning. This warning is given in the form of a conditional dismissal. This means that no criminal prosecution is instituted when they meet a number of conditions. One of the conditions is the timely delivery of all necessary documents to the FIU. In addition, the suspects must not otherwise commit criminal offenses. If the conditions are not met, the summons will still be submitted with the result that the suspect must account for the criminal judge. The criminal investigation will continue with regard to non-cooperating suspects.
Reporting unusual transactions and doing customer research remains an important pillar in combating money laundering and terrorism financing. In the future, permanent attention will be asked for this subject from the “non-reporter project”. For example, in the reconstruction phase after hurricane “Irma” it is crucial that reporting agents such as administration and trust offices report unusual transactions related to construction companies.
More information about FIU and reporting duty can be found at www.fiu-sxm.net See also the previous press release; FIU Sint Maarten and OM start “non-reporting project”